It is well recognised that personal development is a key driver of organisational performance and employee engagement. Emphasising personal development has also been heavily linked to employee retention. For reasons such as these, Personal Development Plans (PDPs) form part of many organisations’ performance management systems. However, despite their many advantages, PDPs have also invited criticism, which has caused HR professionals to re-examine them as a concept and to explore alternatives.
The PDP should include SMART Personal Development Objectives, which are reviewed and updated on a continuous basis.
The act of turning PDPs into measurable, attainable objectives encourages employees to take accountability and deliver on them. Thus, employees set specific personal development objectives, alongside their performance objectives, and HR are enabled to collate these development objectives in order to determine the training needs of the organisation.
When implementing and creating personal development objectives within your organisation, be sure to follow the steps below for optimal impact.
Personal development objectives-Explaining to employees
HR professionals should bear in mind that employees are unlikely to be as familiar with the concepts of objective setting as you are. So as part of your communication or training for employees on objective setting, explain what personal development objectives are and why they are important.
In your communications, you could describe personal development objectives as:
“Specific areas in which you need to develop in order to achieve your performance objectives, career goals or to improve an aspect of your performance. A personal development objective could be about developing a specific skill or behaviour, or increasing your knowledge in a particular area.”
Provide a variety of learning materials to staff on objective setting and make them easily accessible.
Encourage employees to take personal ownership of their objectives
When we create our own objectives, we are far more motivated to achieve them. With this in mind, it is important that employees construct and arrive at their own personal development objectives rather than having them dictated from above. This is much more efficient approach when it comes to driving productivity and performance. Managers should be on hand to help and advise when necessary, but employees should be in the driving seat at all times.
When asking employees to consider their personal development objectives, make it clear that an objective doesn’t always have to relate to something that they need to improve. It could equally be about further developing an existing strength.
Review personal development objectives regularly
Setting personal development objectives shouldn’t be a once-a-year activity. Employees and their managers should set aside regular time on an ongoing basis to review objectives. These ‘check-ins’ are an opportunity to discuss progress made, give feedback, identify obstacles to success and agree new objectives when current ones have been completed.
Make personal development objectives stretching
Research has been conducted on goal setting in an effort to determine whether people are more likely to perform well when working on challenging goals or easier deliverables. The research revealed that when goals are stretching, they result in significantly higher performance. This should be kept in mind when agreeing personal development objectives, but remember to keep things in perspective. Objectives that stretch an individual beyond the limit of their capabilities will not be achieved and you will be left with an employee feeling disillusioned and unmotivated.
If the above points are kept in mind, your organisation can expect to boost performance and embrace a productive working environment.